GRAYTON BEACH — It is always a pleasure to dine at Borago. The Grayton Beach restaurant has been operated by its current owners (both of whom are chefs) for more than a decade. Each time I dine there, I find a welcoming atmosphere and excellent food.
The food at Borago makes you feel not only fed, but also nourished. It is comforting rustic Italian fare. While there are contemporary twists here and there, much of the food makes me think of what I would find at the home of a good cook if I were visiting Italy.
The meal begins with a basket of focaccia accompanied by a dish of olive oil, cheese and balsamic vinegar.
A wonderful example of the style of food is the starter of veal meatballs with soft polenta and roasted tomato sauce. The tender meatballs are served in a pool of creamy polenta, with tomato sauce as the perfect foil for all that creaminess.
One of my favorite Italian dishes is arancini, breaded and fried balls of rice with a melty cheese center. Borago’s version is served in a pool of tomato sauce and pesto. The dish is pretty and delicious.
The starter menu also includes cornmeal dusted calamari, seared rare tuna and mushroom ravioli. Pan seared scallops with polenta and tomato butter sauce is an excellent option.
Salad portions are generous. There is a classic Caesar, mixed greens with Roma tomatoes and fontina, and an arugula salad. The arugula had a nice peppery flavor that was accented with Gorgonzola and sweet walnuts.
Pasta dishes are appropriate portions for a meal. But we opted to share a dish as a prelude to the main course.
Pasta options can be simple plates of linguine with tomato sauce, or angel hair with red chilies and garlic. Or choose richer linguine with chicken, pancetta, fresh corn and Parmesan cream sauce.
Main course dishes feature seafood, beef, veal, pork and chicken. But one of the best is a beautifully conceived vegetable dish.
Lasagna has strips of roasted eggplant stand in for the pasta. In between the layers is a filling of squash and mushrooms. The dish is brought together with creamy tomato sauce and lots of cheese.
Also outstanding is the creamy seafood fricasse with shrimp, scallops and lump crab served over polenta. Or go for a simple, but flavorful beef filet topped with Boursin and served with risotto.
For dessert, I can’t resist the warm fruit-filled crostada (with a scoop of ice cream, of course). Also at the top of the list is the chocolate creme brûlée. The hard caramel top gives way to rich deep chocolate.
Borago has a nice selection of wines by the glass, including sparkling wine, reds, whites and a rose. There is also a full bar, and an interesting menu of specialty drinks and martinis.
The bar at Borago is located just inside the entrance. You can dine there, or at a table in the large, open dining room. There is a view of the goings on in the kitchen from the tables.
Even though the dining room is open, the tables are spaced far enough apart that conversation from other tables isn’t intrusive. The décor matches the food with its rustic Italian flair.
Service is always exemplary at Borago. Our server had extensive knowledge of the menu, making excellent suggestions as to which dishes would be good to share if having more than one course (the salads, and many of the pasta dishes).
The courses were properly spaced so that we never felt rushed, nor did we have excessive waits between courses.
A final taste
Borago is reliably excellent from one year to the next. If it has been a while since you have visited, start the new year the right way by visiting this old friend.
Restaurant: Borago Restaurant
Location: 80 East Highway 30A, Grayton Beach
Hours: Open daily at 6 p.m. Closed some Sundays in January.
Handicap accessibility: good
Children’s menu: yes
Price range: Appetizers, $8 - $14
Salads, $8 - $10
Entrees, $24 - $35
Pasta, $15 - $22.
Payment: major credit cards